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FA Cup

  • January 29, 2011
  • • 13:00
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: L. Probert
  • • Attendance: 26067
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FA Cup Preview: Aston Villa - Blackburn

FA Cup Preview: Aston Villa - Blackburn

Villa Look To Continue Impressive Turnaround

The signing of Darren Bent from Sunderland has launched a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of manager Gerard Houllier. A lowly league position had the fans grumbling about the Frenchman but two league victories on the bounce, against Manchester City and Wigan Athletic, has seen Villa climb to 13th in the Premier League.

Although Bent is unable to play on Saturday, Houllier has a wealth of attacking options available to him and will be expecting the trio of Ashley Young, Marc Albrighton and Stewart Downing to terrify the Rovers defence.

Villa fans will be hoping for a repeat of a similar fixture back in September, when the boys in claret and blue beat Rovers 3-1 in the League Cup - with a lively Ashley Young grabbing two goals.

Rovers Looking To Continue Playing Expansive Football

Many predicted Steve Kean would struggle to step into Sam Allardyce's shoes but the new boss has impressed at Ewood Park - coaxing Rovers into a slightly more open style of play that has seen them rise up the table to eighth position.

A 2-0 win against West Brom last weekend was their third consecutive home victory and fans travelling to Villa Park will be hoping that their team can continue their impressive style of play away from Ewood Park.

Rovers lost their last two away games, at Chelsea and Sunderland, but with players like Morten Gamst Pedersen and Jason Roberts expressing their desire to battle for a first-team place, fans will be hoping that they can combine a fluent passing game with some steel to progress to the next round of the cup.

TEAM NEWS

Aston Villa

Gerard Houllier is without his record signing Darren Bent - who is cup-tied after scoring for Sunderland in their 2-1 loss to Notts County in the third round earlier in January.

The Villa manager has no fresh injury worries following Tuesday night's 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic but are still without Fabian Delph and Stephen Ireland - who both have knee injuries.

Possible starting XI: Friedel; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Clark; Albrighton, Petrov, Makoun, Downing; A Young; Agbonlahor.

Blackburn

Blackburn manager Steve Kean admits that new loan signing Jermaine Jones is not yet fully accustomed to the speed of English football but is likely to include the American international in his starting XI after his impressive debut in the 2-0 win over West Brom last Sunday.

Loan signing Roque Santa Cruz is eligible to play at Villa Park as the striker was an unused substitute in Manchester City's 2-2 draw with Leicester City in the third round.

Kean has a relatively injury-free squad but is still without long-term absentees Ryan Nelsen and Phil Jones (both knee), and Vincent Grella and Keith Andrews (both groin).

Possible starting XI: Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Givet, Olsson; Hoilett, Dunn, J Jones, Pedersen; Kalinic, Santa Cruz.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
24Brad FriedelGoalkeeper
2Kyle WalkerDefender
24Carlos Javier CuéllarDefender
6Ciaran ClarkDefender
2Nathan BakerDefender
20Nigel Reo-CokerMidfielder
8Robert PiresMidfielder
46Barry BannanMidfielder
11Gabriel AgbonlahorStriker
-Emile HeskeyStriker
14Nathan DelfounesoStriker
33Andy MarshallGoalkeeper
18Ashley YoungMidfielder
19Stilian PetrovMidfielder
16Fabian DelphMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
19James CollinsDefender
12Marc AlbrightonMidfielder
1Paul RobinsonGoalkeeper
27Michel SalgadoDefender
22Christopher SambaDefender
31Grant HanleyDefender
23Martin OlssonDefender
15Steven N'ZonziMidfielder
17Keith AndrewsMidfielder
12M. PedersenMidfielder
23Junior HoilettStriker
30Jason RobertsStriker
9Roque Santa CruzStriker
13Mark BunnGoalkeeper
13Jermaine JonesMidfielder
35Jason LoweDefender
18El-Hadji DioufStriker
9Nikola KalinicStriker
11Vincenzo GrellaMidfielder
25BenjaniStriker
Prediction
Both teams are enjoying good mini-runs in the Premier League and should be high on confidence. I expect a physical battle in the centre of midfield between new boys Jean Makoun and Jermaine Jones and whoever gets the best of that area of the pitch could hold the key to success.

Under Kean Rovers look to play a less direct style of play than in the Allardyce era so I expect this game to be an exciting end-to-end one full of attacking play.

Both sides are capable of scoring goals but I expect Villa's young, talent attacking players to just about make the difference in this tie.
Editor's Prediction

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